OGDEN In several previous games, Weber State built a nice lead, only to see its opponent sneak back into the game and, on occasion, beat the Wildcats.
That was far from the case Saturday night in the Dee Events Center, where Weber State stormed out to a 23-point lead 14 minutes into the contest and was never really challenged, cruising to a 65-49 win over Montana State in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Tournament.
"We got aggressive again," WSU coach Randy Rahe said. "Our defense and rebounding really carried us. They had a hard time getting clean looks and that really helped us tonight."
The Wildcats (16-13) got 11 points and 12 rebounds from Arturas Valeika and Brody Van Brocklin chipped in 10 points as they used a balanced offense to upend the Bobcats and earn a semifinal date with Northern Arizona Tuesday night in Portland.
In opening the defense of its Big Sky crown, Weber State sent an early message. It started when Daviin Davis stole a pass and drove the length of the floor, finishing with a two-handed, double-pump dunk just a few seconds into the game.
After MSU evened the game at 4-4, the Wildcats rattled off 10 unanswered points and followed a Bobcat basket with a 13-0 run to blow the game wide open.
"The last couple of games, we had a really hard time starting games and always were down like 9-2 or something," Valeika said. "So it was important for us to come out aggressive ... after a while, they had the look in their eyes. They didn't know if they could score."
Eventually the Bobcats did score. But when they did, it was not nearly enough to climb back into the game.
Weber State led 36-21 at the half and the game was never closer than 13 the rest of the way.
"We put some stops together in the second half," Rahe said. "We kind of had a little lull to start, but when we snapped out of that lull, we put two or three stops together and kind of created some separation."
WSU limited Montana State (15-15) to just 32 percent shooting and outrebounded the Bobcats 38-30. Only Carlos Taylor reached doubled figures, as he had 14 points, but hit only 5-of-14 shots in doing so.
"We just had to keep staying aggressive," Valieka said. "We couldn't let up because we knew they were not going to give up."
The Wildcats also got a nice effort off the bench. Kellen McCoy and Trevor Morris each scored six points, while Tyler Billings and Juan Pablo Silveira tossed in five points apiece to give the starters a rest as the game was in hand. Only Davis played more than 30 minutes for the 'Cats, who will practice today before flying to Oregon on Monday afternoon."We're excited to have another chance to play Northern Arizona," Rahe said of Tuesday's Big Sky tourney showdown. "They beat us twice, so we're excited to get another shot at them."
E-mail: [email protected]